Highlights from the May 20 issue of New York Teacher:
“The most dangerous thing this union faces today is the budget crisis,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew told delegates at their May 12 meeting as he discussed a new campaign, “For Our Kids,” to stop massive cutbacks.
Just one week before threatening to eliminate more than 6,400 teaching positions through layoffs and attrition to save money, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein named four new deputy chancellors, each of whom will make more money than most city commissioners.
“Blame Albany” was Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s mantra on May 6 as he unveiled his proposed executive budget, which calls for eliminating 6,400 teaching jobs — 4,400 through layoffs and the rest through attrition — to make up for a $1.3 billion shortfall in state aid to the city.
The UFT Delegate Assembly on May 12 overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution to support an agreement between the UFT, NYSUT and the State Education Department to create a new teacher evaluation system that is based on multiple measures and provides customized professional support for those in need of help.
Some local newspapers and TV stations have been attacking teachers and the union lately, but much of what has been reported as fact is anything but. We expose their “War on Truth” in a new series.
There’s something special going on at MS 319. It’s not just the students moving quietly through imaginatively decorated hallways, spiffy in their uniforms of khaki pants and light blue shirts and greeted by teachers and a principal who seem to know each of them by name. And it’s more than the brightly colored classrooms — each the personal color choice of the teacher — named for famous people associated with the subject taught.
Speaking before an audience of 1,800 members, elected and school officials, and advocates at the annual Spring Conference on May 8, UFT President Michael Mulgrew called for a radically different, multifaceted approach to educational reform and proposed a “community schools program” that would provide medical and social services to students and families as a model of how to help struggling schools and communities.
As a member of the Operation Soapbox panel at the UFT Spring Conference, David Steiner, new state commissioner of education, called for an end to “bubble” tests and for restoration of the arts as an equal part of the school curriculum. Acknowledging that times are tough and teachers “face enormous outside pressures … and a difficult financial crisis, it is not OK,” he said, “to resolve our differences and mistakes on the backs of children.”
This year, the union’s most prestigious honor, the John Dewey Award, went to the NAACP, the nation’s oldest (101 years) and largest civil rights organization. The award was doubly appropriate: Dewey himself was involved in the organization that became the NAACP, and the two organizations — the UFT and the NAACP — worked together this past year to prevent the wrongful closing of 19 public schools.
Teachers and other UFT-represented educators came to the 2010 UFT Spring Conference looking for new ideas and answers to questions about these contentious times for public school educators. They found what they were looking for at the workshops.